Chapter 13 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
Teacher met that night with the nervous Duke, his fidgeting heir and the new Prince. No one in the room seemed at ease around the pale figure in dark robes; Teacher took their fear in stride. When a servant made a furtive sign of Amma--head, heart and groin--Teacher may even have smirked. "We leave tomorrow, Your Grace," said Teacher.
"The boy should rest, counselor, do you not think?" said Gonnor. "It's been a long journey for him…and I would like for Prince Temmin--Tennoc," at his grandson's lowering look, "to know his homeland and family. He's been on the road for more than two weeks already, surely a rest before such a long journey--it's the better part of a spoke to Tremont City."
"We will go back the way I came," said Teacher.
Tennoc's skin prickled at the memory of traveling through a reflection with Kenver. He was in no hurry to take to the road again but said, "Mightn't it be better for me to see more of the country, sir?"
Teacher frowned. "Do not call me 'sir.' I dislike it intensely." Tennoc bowed his head in puzzled apology. "You will see your country in time, Your Highness, but your father required me to bring you to his Keep as soon as I found you. Today was my first sighting of you in a reflection."
"We didn't have time to polish my armor," said Tennoc with a faint smile.
"Will you at least accept my hospitality for the night, Your Highness?" said the anxious Gonnor.
Every muscle in Tennoc's body ached and he wanted nothing more than bed. Still, he consulted Teacher with a glance. The counselor lifted an eyebrow; Tennoc took it to mean he might decide for himself. "We will stay the night, Lord Gonnor, and then Hanni and I will leave with Teacher as King--er, as my father desires." Gonnor and Fallick bowed, as did Teacher. He returned it in reflex.
"Princes of Tremont do not bow to their lords," said Teacher.
"I'm not used to being a prince," answered Tennoc. He leveled a gaze at his cousin. "Yet." Fallik frowned uncertainly.
When they returned to Tennoc's room, Teacher said, "Lord Fallik has his grandfather's impetuous temper. Do not hold it against him. He is honorable and would fight at your side to the death were you to need him."
"Whitehorsers hold their honor in too high esteem."
Tennoc sat down to pull off his boots and grinned. "Bastards have no honor in Tremont. Or so I'm told."
In the morning, Tennoc found a polished steel plate the size of a table top set up in the Freehold's courtyard. Teacher pronounced such a large reflection unnecessary, but Gonnor insisted it made transporting livestock easier. Hanni waited with their horses, eyeing Teacher apprehensively. "It's all right, Hanni. You might get a bit sick, but it's a quick journey," said Tennoc.
"Worry not for me to get sick, it is to worry for the horses."
"Horses don't vomit."
"No, but stumble and flatten my foot they can, sir. Big enough is my foot."
"Must you bring the horses?" frowned Teacher.
"Better horses you will not find, not even here! I, Hanni, from Whitehorse stock did breed them--from horse you gave Prince Andrin I stole for Mistress long ago, begging pardon," he added, bowing to Gonnor. "Was fine horse!"
Teacher waved a resigned hand at the steel plate. "Show me Mirror Clearing." The reflection resolved into murk, a round, irregular window at its center revealing trees and greenery as if he were looking through a knothole.
Tennoc and his grandfather eyed each other awkwardly. The old man had aged even since the day before; in spite of himself, Tennoc pitied more than hated him, though he could never love him. He offered his arm. Gonnor took it and they clasped one another at the elbow. "Thank you for your hospitality, Lord Grandfather."
"My door is ever open to you, Tennoc," said Gonnor.
Tennoc's heart twisted. "Thank you, sir. Lord Fallik," he said, turning to his cousin, "in time perhaps we may come to enjoy our kinship more than we have so far. I am not too proud to try." He extended his hand.
Fallik hesitated, but in the end they clasped arms. "Safe journey, Your Highness," he grudgingly answered.
"Can you handle both horses, Hanni der Geelt?" said Teacher.
"In my care always are the horses," bristled Hanni.
"You are in my care," said Teacher. "I must hold your hand and pull you through the mirror. Hold their bridles firmly."
"And my master?"
Teacher's silver eyes filled with mischief. "Your master can take himself through now." Teacher grabbed Hanni and pulled the man and both horses through the mirror, their bodies flowing like swirling water to appear in the round, framed reflection on the other side. Teacher waved, and the image vanished.
Tennoc stood agape before the mirror. He'd been left behind! But Teacher said he could travel the Highway of the Kings now, like Kenver and Dunnoc. Was it so? He flushed. How had Kenver done it? "Show me…" he faltered. Where had Teacher taken Hanni and the horses? He couldn't remember. No, he didn't need to know the place, just-- "Show me Hanni!"
The mirror resolved into the irregular round of light in a plane of darkness, though Hanni's giant eye filled almost all of the round. What held the reflection on the other side? The times Kenver had taken him through a reflection he'd been violently ill, and he worried it might happen again. He glanced at Fallik and Gonnor. Well, if I am sick, they won't see it. He swallowed his nausea and put his hand on the mirror. It sank into the surface, and the magic began.
His bones melted into water. The space inside the reflection had no north or south, no means of knowing which way was down, and slivers of light whirled around him. He fought to keep his breakfast--and then he was stumbling into a clearing among young trees. He put his hands on his knees until his head cleared.
"Hello," smiled Teacher.